"I don't know what you're running from and I don't want to. You understand? My family. It's not much, but here. Belong to my boys. They have others. You don't know me, understand? It's hard times."
   —An unknown farmer on the scarves he gives Rand and Mat along the Caemlyn Road

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Setting: The Caemlyn Road between Whitebridge and Caemlyn


Point of view: Rand al'Thor

Rand and Mat travel the dusty road from Whitebridge to Caemlyn. Rand recalls the kindness of an unknown farmer who gifted them scarves to help along the road. They hide in a group of hedges when the dry dust warns them of something approaching from behind. the dust cloud resolves into a group of horsemen patrolling the road. Rand keeps hoping to see Thom come up from behind. Mat keeps fingering his Ruby-hilted dagger. A small village reminds Rand of home, but Mat reminds him that they can't stay there.

They spend their first night out of Whitebridge outside on the ground. They are running out of money and cannot afford to stay at an inn. Rand asks Mat about selling the ruby dagger, but Mat gets angry and asks if Rand wants to sell his sword. The two friends finally end the argument with the realization that no one could really afford the ruby.

They travel a few nights and survive by staying at several farms and working for food. The hours of stopping worries Rand; how long before the Myrddraal catches up? How far can a Fade travel in an hour. Mat's suspicions of other people, even the strangers who offer them food and shelter, grows worse...

Mat Cauthon

"What do we know about them, anyway? He's up to something, I tell you. See the way he wouldn't meet my eye? Why are they so friendly to a couple of wanderers they never laid eyes on before? Tell me that." - Mat

After several days they arrive at the Grinwell farm and Master Grinwell invites them to stay the night. Mistress Grinwell even offers them a change of clothes, her smile reducing Mat's suspicious nature.

The eldest daughter of nine children was a girl almost Rand's age named Else Grinwell. She watches the boys while they work- just watches, especially Rand. The infatuation makes Rand uncomfortable and he wishes for some of Perrin's luck with girls. He fears that the looks she gives him may make the father release the dogs on them.

After supper, Mat juggles for the children and Rand decides to play the flute, thinking of Thom and his sacrifice for them. His performance leads to an offhand, flirtatious comment from Else. Nervous about the appraising look from her mother, Rand plays every song he can think of with hopes to distract them.

After the performance, Mistress Grinwell suggests that the boys use Else's room, while Else sleeps with her. When the husband tries to suggest that they may want to work another day, Mistress Grinwell informs them that the boys will want to start early if they want to make it to the next village.

The next morning, Mat teases Rand about Else while Rand tries to change the subject to talk about the Grinwell's suggestion that they try to entertain for their food and bed at inns. At dusk, they enter the village of Arien and find food and shelter at the town's only inn. The next morning, the innkeeper calls over Eazil Forney to give them a ride after failed attempts to get the boys to stay another night. Their luck picks up after the Grinwells. They eat decent meals, sleep in a bed each night, and receive rides from patrons when they leave. Rand and Mat continue traveling in this manner for several days and then they arrive at Four Kings.